Russia, U.S. announce partial Syrian ceasefire

In a joint U.S.-Russian statement released by the State Department this morning, a partial ceasefire agreement has been reached between Russia and the United States to halt fighting in Syria.

A February 27 date has been set for the ceasefire to go into effect.

Under the terms of the agreement “Cessation of Hostilities in Syria,” specifications are to “be applied to [all] those parties to the Syrian conflict that have indicated their commitment.” The agreement explicitly declares warring parties are to communicate their “commitment and acceptance” to the truce by 12:00 Damascus time on February 26.

Islamic State, Al Nusra Front and other groups classified as terror organizations by the United Nations are excluded from the conditions of the agreement and both ground operations and aerial bombardment against their positions will continue.

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Obama differ on diplomatic and political solutions in Syria, in a phone conversation between the two this morning, Putin expressed pleasure with the breakthrough, told Obama the ceasefire would “radically transform the crisis situation in Syria,” and pledged the Kremlin would work with Damascus to abide by the terms.

Mr. Putin emphasized the need for the U.S. to fulfill its obligations by pressing opposition groups to adhere to the agreement.

Similarly pleased with the latest developments, President Obama indicated his hopes the suspension of hostilities would create an opportunity to bring political change in the war-torn nation.

“This is a moment of promise, but the fulfillment of that promise depends on actions. All parties must meet their commitments under this agreement and must remain committed over a period of time to make possible a political end to this conflict,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.

Analysis

Thankfully, and mercifully, for Syria, there is a brief moment of elation.

Virtual alchemy for the beleaguered Syrians, this agreement signals diplomatic and political courage which is increasingly scarce in global affairs.

As for the remaining chorus line of terror enthusiasts who remain outside of the realm of the ceasefire agreement, they may consider their daily activity of spreading mayhem indistinguishable from harmlessly larking about; however, they are now, hopefully, the main targets of a combined effort between Russia and the U.S.

Diplomacy, it seems, can achieve miracles when all parties are committed to finding solutions.

 

[Bloomberg] [RT News] [state.gov] [Photo courtesy The Independent]